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Interview Questions

Whilst of course you’ll be nervous as a candidate heading into an interview, you should also be really excited. Your CV obviously impressed, and your potential employer wants to know more. All that’s left is for you to ace it.

As recruiters, we’ve often seen our candidates plague themselves with questions and analysis when it comes to the interview process. What do particular questions mean? What’s the employer trying to find out? Are they trying to trip me up? (The answer to that last one is always, no). As a result, it seemed only reasonable to provide candidates, both present and future, with a little bit of insight into what the interview process is really all about.

Interview Questions And What The Employer Is Trying To Find Out

Ultimately, the purpose of an interview is to enable prospective employers to know more about you as a candidate. At Headway, we use psychometric profiling as standard, and we meet all of our candidates face-to-face. This is because we want to ensure that our candidates have the best possible chance of acing the interview, and finding the job that’s right for them from the outset.

There are of course some stalwart interview questions that are impossible to avoid. Questions like:

Why should I employ you?

This is a biggie. Here, you’ll need to demonstrate why you’re the person for the job. You’ll need to convince your interviewer that you’re the candidate who won’t just get the job done, but who’ll get it done faster and more competently than the other candidates they’re interviewing. The employer wants to know why they should hire you above everyone else – make sure you’ve got your answer to this one nailed down.

There are gaps in your CV. Tell me about that.

This question can sometimes come out of the blue and knock a candidate’s confidence mid-interview. There’s no reason why this should be the case. If you’ve got gaps in your work history, you’re not alone. Your interviewer is looking for honesty, not elaborate made up stories of calamity. You’ll need to prove to them that whether it was down to illness, a sabbatical or other reason, you can be depended on as a reliable member of the team.

What will you bring to the business?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is about your skills and experience. By all means link these into your answer where necessary, but this isn’t what the interviewer is getting at. They want to know how well you’re going to fit in. Ensure that you’ve fully researched the company culture and can tell your prospective employer why you’re the one for them.

Tell me some more about yourself.

Every candidates most dreaded question, but really, it’s not that bad. When you understand what the interviewer is trying to establish, you can positively reframe this question and really make it your own. Your interviewer wants to know some more about you. They want to know that you understand your strengths and your weaknesses, and that you’re capable of talking about something else other than work. A good answer here can really impress a prospective employer and bag you the job.

Competency Interview Questions

What are competency based interview questions? Well, they’re questions designed to help an employer understand more about how you behave in certain situations, and how your skills and knowledge help you deal with the task in hand.

You’ll recognise a competency based question when your interviewer asks you to tell them about a time when. For example; when you coped well under pressure, when you dealt with a difficult colleague; when you solved a problem – it really could be anything.

Prior to your interview, it’s vital that you look at your skills, experience and qualifications. Then think about the times and scenario’s when they proved vital to you managing a situation. Whether that situation was a negative one, or one that required you to be innovative and creative – the purpose of the question is the same.

Bonus points go to those candidates who can back up what they’re saying with actual statistics. For example, if you know a system you designed and implemented in your workplace increased the number of sales, could you give the figures? This is definitely a sure fire way to impress any interviewer.

At the end of the day, no employer walks into an interview with the sole aim of catching you out or tripping you up. If that’s their aim, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway. Your prospective employer wants to get the best from you, they want you to be the next member of their team. That’s what good recruitment drives, and interviews, are all about.

 If you’re interested in working with Headway Recruitment to help with your next career move, contact a member of the team now.

Delivering Presentations

Delivering presentations is a common phobia among many candidates. However, it’s something that everyone is likely to be faced with at one time or another in their professional lives. Whether you’re asked to present at interview, or you’re presenting to your entire team as part of your role, the skills and techniques involved are the same.

Make sure you’re well rested.

If you’re heading for an interview, or presenting to the board, make sure you’ve had a good night’s sleep. This might sound patronising, but this is really important. Lack of sleep will only contribute to existing feelings of anxiety.

The night before your presentation, avoid coffee and alcohol. Turn your phone and television off at a reasonable hour and lie down with a good book (not your presentation). Even if your nerves mean that you can’t sleep immediately, the simple act of resting will do wonders for you.

Preparation is key.

Make sure that you’ve prepared your presentation and are well versed in all the points you intend to make. Be clear about what you want to say and who you’re saying it to – what do you want your audience to take away with them from your presentation?

You must practice. Whether it’s alone or in front of a friend or family member, knowing your presentation thoroughly is really important. This will also go a long way to minimising those inevitable nerves.

Body language matters.

A good presentation is as reliant on your positive body language, just as much as it is on excellent content. It might feel natural to gesticulate wildly but try your best to avoid it. The last thing you need is to knock over your water and ruin your notes.

Hold eye contact, stand or sit up straight. Don’t fold your arms in a defensive gesture and try not to tap your fingers or twiddle your thumbs. If you want, use a prop. For example a pen, to hold and keep your hands steady.

Don’t rely on a script.

By all means have a short outline of your presentation to hand. But avoid reading verbatim from a script. The whole point is to engage the people you’re addressing, they need to know that you’re confident and knowledgeable about the subject matter. Reading your presentation word for word will completely undermine your expertise.

Be yourself.

It might sound like a cliche, but we stand by it. The people listening to your presentation want to get to know you, and letting your personality shine through will really help to engage your audience and endear them to you. If it’s appropriate, use some light humour, and allow yourself to relax. The first few minutes of any presentation are always the hardest but once you find your flow, the likelihood is that you’ll start to enjoy yourself.

When it comes to delivering presentation, in reality, if you stay calm and go with the flow, you’ll be absolutely fine. There are times when it won’t be perfect. Times when you’ll trip over your words, forget your place and perhaps have to start again. However, if you’ve followed the advice above, your audience will only remember how much they learned from what you had to say.

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